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Ontario Premier Says Province Will Lead Canada in Number of Pot Dispensaries

By Eric Volkman - Updated Jan 30, 2020 at 8:18PM

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Doug Ford blames cannabis producers for the slow initial rollout of marijuana retail stores.

Ontario will soon become the Canadian province with the highest number of cannabis dispensaries. In fact, its total number will exceed those of all other provinces combined.

That, at least, was the promise made by Ontario Premier Doug Ford in an interview with BNN Bloomberg on Thursday. Ford's pronouncement was remarkable, given that Ontario currently has an extremely low number of dispensaries despite its size and prominence.

Gloved hand holding marijuana leaf in front of Canadian flag.

Image source: Getty Images

Many cannabis industry insiders and pundits blame what they consider to be the provincial's government's slow licensing process for the situation.

Ford begged to differ. In the interview, he pointed the finger of blame at the producers of the drug. "They didn't have the supply ready," he said.

In contrast, Ford said that he and provincial authorities are "doing it responsibly. We're going to roll out the market and keep in mind it's only been a little over a year and a bit and we're opening up to the market."

Ford did not specify how Ontario would help ramp up the number of dispensaries, nor did he provide any sort of timetable for this to occur.

The difference in numbers is starkly in favor of other provinces -- at the moment, Ontario has only 28 dispensaries serving a total population of nearly 14.6 million souls (the highest figure out of all Canadian provinces and territories). In sharp contrast, Alberta is home to 402 dispensaries and less than 4.4 million residents.

Some of the most prominent cannabis companies are based in Ontario. Canopy Growth (CGC -5.96%) is one, and it's among the lucky few to have a retail presence in the province. Just now it's expanding the footprint of its Tokyo Smoke brand, a once-independent company Canopy bought in 2018.

Canopy Growth stock closed down marginally on Thursday. 


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